An update from Elizabeth, MBA and Master of Arts Management ’12, who traveled to India with the Cox Global Leadership Program:
We were scheduled to have lunch at the Sheraton Hotel, but they “lost” our reservation, or overbooked, or something. In any case, we were not going to be seated anytime soon. We left to find something else, but discussion arose about seeing the Agra Fort. Many of us had thought it was included in the day, but apparently last year’s group added it spontaneously. The majority of us wanted to do the same. A compromise was reached: fast food and fast tour of Agra Fort.
And fast food it was: we stopped at McDonald’s. We all opted for something you can’t find in the States, like McSpicy Chicken (yes, it’s different) or McSpicy Paneer. And, of course, soft-serve ice cream, which has universal deliciousness. The tour company is apparently working on planning a dinner or lunch for us in Mumbai, to make up for the mix-up, but most of us were content enough with some fries and a greasy Mickey D’s sandwich.
We really did tear through Agra Fort, especially since it’s huge. But it’s really interesting, and more intricate, in many ways, than the Taj. The raj who built the Taj Mahal was imprisoned in Agra Fort when his son usurped him, partly because of the cost of building the Taj. It was built for his third wife, after she died in childbirth. So the old man lived out his days in this humungous fort, but they say he rarely left a corner of the fort from which you could see the Taj Mahal. He was buried with his wife in the Taj upon his death.
The heat got us sweaty and rowdy and almost delirious in the Fort, and, following the example of some Indian tourists in front of us, we posed inside a well, and on a few higher levels, which apparently displeased one of the guards. Some might call it “being asked to leave,” but I prefer “uniformed escort through the rest of the monument.” Our guide simply kept stopping to talk more, just reaching the limit of the guard’s patience before moving on. So we still got the full effect. We were all incredibly glad we decided to make the stop.
Despite the extra visit and a tremendous traffic snarl due to an accident, we still made excellent time (if terrifying driving patterns) and were home by 9 pm. We were exhausted, dusty, dirty, and sweaty but cold (I never thought I’d try to hide from a/c in India). It seems to be a common end to our days here in India, and there’s one more thing we always seem to end with: big ol’ smiles.
(But no pictures, in my case, since my battery died at the Taj Mahal.)